Chinese Mobile OS Field Getting Crowded

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Chinese Mobile OS Field Getting Crowded


What’s the height of mobile-gadget fashion in China these days? It’s not owning your own iPhone. It’s launching your own smartphone operating system.

Following e-commerce giant Alibaba Group’s July 28 unveiling of a smartphone running its Aliyun mobile operating system, search leader Baidu recently divulged it, too, is planning its own branded platform, a variant of Google’s Android√ÇOS that will be reportedly be supported by tablet computers and phones from Dell. Not to be outdone, Tencent, owner of China’s largest social-networking service, is readying an Android variant, writes Penn-Olson’s Steven Millward. Then there’s mobile-apps maker Xiaomi’s new smartphone, which√¢‚Ǩ”ditto√¢‚Ǩ”runs its own Android-based OS.

Of the lot, only Alibaba’s system was built from scratch. The other three are “forks” (modifications) of the open-source Android software. At a press conference today during AliFest, Alibaba Group’s annual Internet conference, Wang Jian, who spearheaded Alibaba’s OS development effort, said he didn’t know enough about Baidu’s offering to compare it with Aliyun. But he did stress that Alibaba’s OS√Çis a “very unique architecture” because it is the only√Çsystem designed for cloud computing. One advantage, he pointed out, is that apps written for Aliyun can automatically update√¢‚Ǩ”no need for users to download new versions of their favorite software. In addition to running native applications, the Aliyun OS also is able to handle most Android apps.

Wang, who is president of Alibaba Cloud Computing, declined to reveal sales numbers for the lone Aliyun smartphone on the market, the K-Touch Cloud-Smart Phone W700, made by Beijing Tianyu Telecommunications Equipment Co. He said only that “we are very happy with sales.”√ÇWang added that an English-language Aliyun would be available in about a month, and a tablet running the system will reach the market in two months. No word on whether mobile phone manufacturers other than Beijing Tianyu will be making Aliyun cloud devices.

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